What Causes Heart Attacks?
Heart attacks can be caused by;
- high blood pressure,
- smoking cigarettes,
- coronary artery heart problems,
- using cocaine,
- severe anemia,
- respiratory failure, and
How the heart pumps blood into the arteries with enough force to push blood to the far reaches of each organ from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet. Blood pressure can be defined as the pressure of blood on the walls of the arteries as it circulates through the body. Blood pressure is highest as its leaves the heart through the aorta and gradually decreases as it enters smaller and smaller blood vessels (arteries, arterioles, and capillaries). Blood returns in the veins leading to the heart, aided by gravity and muscle contraction.
Blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff and recorded as two numbers, for example, 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). Blood pressure measurements are usually taken at the upper arm over the brachial artery.
The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have recommended guidelines to define normal and high blood pressure (all values are in mm Hg).
|Hypertension stage||Systolic (mm Hg)||Diastolic (mm Hg)|
|Normal blood pressure||< 120||< 80|
|Elevated blood pressure||120-129||< 80|
|Stage 1 hypertension||130-139||80-89|
|Stage 2 hypertension||> 139||> 89|
Based on these new 2017 guidelines defining high blood pressure, as many as half of all Americans will have this disease (48% of men and 43% of women). Uncontrolled high blood pressure is responsible for many cases of death and disability resulting from a heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.
According to research studies, the risk of dying of a heart attack is directly linked to high blood pressure, particularly systolic hypertension. The higher your blood pressure, the higher the risk. Maintaining lifelong control of hypertension decreases the future risk of complications such as heart attack and stroke.
In 90% of individuals with hypertension, the cause of high blood pressure is not known and is referred to as primary or essential hypertension. While the specific cause is unknown, there are risk factors that can contribute to developing high blood pressure.
Factors that cannot be changed
High blood pressure usually causes no symptoms and high blood pressure often is labeled "the silent killer." People who have high blood pressure typically don't know it until their blood pressure is measured. Sometimes people with markedly elevated blood pressure may develop complications because organs are stressed when they are exposed to the elevated pressures.
High blood pressure brain symptoms:
High blood pressure and heart symptoms
People often do not seek medical care until they have symptoms arising from the organ damage caused by chronic (ongoing, long-term) high blood pressure. These types of organ damage are commonly seen in chronic high blood pressure.
It is of utmost importance to realize that high blood pressure can be unrecognized for years, causing no symptoms but causing progressive damage to the heart, other organs, and blood vessels.
In some individuals, high blood pressure is caused by another disease or condition, for example, example, Kidney disease
Many symptoms present gradually after years of poorly blood pressure control. Often, the first knowledge of hypertension occurs when a person complains of chest pain or has stroke-like symptoms. Should these occur, it is appropriate to call 911 immediately (if available) to activate emergency medical services and seek care.
You may be directed to seek medical care if blood pressure readings are elevated if done as part of a community health screening. Isolated elevated blood pressure readings do not necessarily make the diagnosis of hypertension. Blood pressure readings vary throughout the day, and your primary care provider may record a different reading than the one that was measured in a screening that sent you in for care.
There are non-specific symptoms associated with hypertension that may cause a person to seek care that includes;
There are many other reasons to develop these symptoms other than high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff (sphygmomanometer). This may be done using a stethoscope and a cuff and gauge or by an automatic machine. It is a routine part of the physical examination and one of the vital signs often recorded for a patient visit. Other vital signs include pulse rate, respiratory rate (breathing rate), temperature, and weight.
The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend specific steps to measure blood pressure in a medical setting.
When discussing blood pressure issues, the healthcare professional may ask questions about past medical history, family history, and medication use, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, and food additives. Other questions may include lifestyle habits, including activity levels, smoking, alcohol consumption, and illegal drug use.
Physical examination may include listening to the heart and lungs, feeling for pulse in the wrist and ankles, and feeling and listening to the abdomen looking for signs of an enlarged aorta. The examiner may also listen in the neck for carotid bruits (sounds made by a narrowed artery in the neck) and in the abdomen for bruits made by an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Eye examination with an ophthalmoscope may be helpful by looking at the small blood vessels on the retina in the back of the eyeball.
Blood tests may be done to assess risk factors for heart disease and stroke as well as looking for complications of hypertension. These include complete blood count (CBC), electrolytes, BUN (blood urea nitrogen), and creatinine and GFR (glomerular filtration rate) to measure kidney function. A fasting lipid profile will measure cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. If appropriate, blood tests may be considered to look for an underlying cause of high blood pressure (secondary hypertension) including abnormal thyroid or adrenal gland function.
Other studies may be considered depending upon the individual patient's needs
Elevated blood pressures in the medical setting may not necessarily reflect the person's real status. "White coat hypertension" describes a patient whose blood pressure is elevated because of the stress of the visit to the doctor or other healthcare professional, and the worry that their blood pressure might be elevated. Repeated blood pressure checks at the doctor's office or the use of a home blood pressure monitoring device may be used to confirm that you have high blood pressure.
Blood pressure control is a lifelong challenge. Hypertension can progress through the years, and treatments that worked earlier in life may need to be adjusted over time. Blood pressure control may involve gradually making lifestyle changes like diet, weight loss, exercise, and possibly taking medicine if necessary. In some situations, medications may be recommended immediately. As with many diseases, you and your doctor should work together to find the treatment plan that works for you.
There also is a stepwise approach to treating high blood pressure, and it combines the stage of hypertension with the calculated risk of future atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD, heart attack or stroke). There are online calculators that are available from the American Heart Association.
The decision as to which medication to use depends upon the patient’s situation and underlying medical conditions. Individuals with diabetes, kidney disease, pregnancy, and other secondary causes of hypertension may have specific medication needs.
Take your high blood pressure medicine as prescribed and only discontinue them on the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional.
In about half of people with high blood pressure, limiting sodium intake by eliminating table salt, cooking salt, and salty and processed foods can reduce blood pressure by 5 mm Hg. Losing weight and participating in regular physical activity can reduce blood pressure further.
If these lifestyle changes and choices don't work, medications should be added. The medications have been proven to reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and kidney problems.
Alternative therapies may be helpful to people trying to control their blood pressure.
Dietary supplements and alternative medications and therapies are sometimes recommended for high blood pressure.
The most important element in the management of high blood pressure is follow-up care.
Lifelong control of hypertension will minimize the risk of developing heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and a variety of other illnesses. Unlike other illnesses in which medications are taken for only a short period of time, high blood pressure medication is usually expected to be taken for the rest of the individual's life. It is uncommon, but not rare, that significant lifestyle changes can lower blood pressure readings to normal.
Untreated or poorly controlled high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. That is why high blood pressure is called "the silent killer."
High blood pressure may be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle include:
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